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and if any man measure his words by his heart, and speak as he thinks, and do not express more kindness to every man, than men usually lrave for any man, he can hardly escape the censure of want of breeding. The old English plainness and sincerity, that generous integrity of nature, and honesty of disposition, which always argues true greatness of mind, and is usually accompanied with undaunted courage and resolution, is in a great measure lost amongst us. There hath been a long endeavour to transform us into foreign manners and fashions, and to bring us to a servile imitation of none of the best of our neighbours, in some of the worst of their qualities. The dialect of conversation is now-a-days so swelled with vanity and compliment, and so surfeited (as I may say) of expressions of kindness and respect, that if a man that lived an age or two ago should return into the world again, he would really want a dictionary to help him to understand his own language, and to know the true intrinsic value of the phrase in fasbion, and would hardly at first believe at what a low rate the highest strains and expressions of kindness imaginable do commonly pass in current payment: and when he should come to understand it, it would be a great while before he could bring himself with a good countenance and a good conscience to
And in truth it is hard to say, whether it should more provoke our contempt or our pity, to hear what solemn expressions of respect and kindness will pass between men, almost upon no occasion; how great honour and esteem they will declare for one whom perhaps they never saw before, and how intirely they are all on the sudden devoted to his service and interest, for no reason; how infinitely and eter
nally obliged to him, for no benefit; and how extremely they will be concerned for him, yea and afflicted too, for no cause. I know it is said, in justification of this hollow kind of conversation, that there is no harm, no real deceit in compliment, but the matter is well enough, so long as we understand one another; et verba valent ut nummi, “ words are like money;" and when the current value of them is generally understood, no man is cheated by them. This is something, if such words were any thing; but being brought into the accompt, they are mere cyphers. However it is still a just matter of complaint, that sincerity and plainness are out of fashion, and that our language is running into a lie; that men have almost quite perverted the use of speech, and made words to signify nothing; that the greatest part of the conversation of mankind is little else but driving a trade of dissimulation; insomuch that it would make a man heartily sick and weary of the world, to see the little sincerity that is in use and practice among men.'
When the vice is placed in this contemptible light, 'he argues unanswerably against it, in words and *thoughts so natural, that any man who reads them would imagine he himself could have been the author of them.
If the shew of any thing be good for any thing, I am sure sincerity is better: for why does any man dissemble, or seem to be that which he is not, but because he thinks it good to have such a quality as he pretends to? For to counterfeit and dissemble, is to put on the appearance of some real excellency. Now the best way in the world to seem to be any thing, is really to be what he would seem to be. Besides, that it is many times as troublesome to make good the pretence of a good quality, as to have it ; and if a man have it not, it is ten to one but he is discovered to want it; and then all his pains and labour to seem to have it, are lost.'
In another part of the same discourse he goes on to shew, that all artifice must naturally tend to the disappointment of him that practises it.
Whatsoever convenience may be thought to be in falsehood and dissimulation, it is soon over; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man under an everlasting jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor trusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a man hath once forfeited the reputation of his integrity, he is set fast, and nothing will then serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.'
No 104. FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 1711,
Qualis equos Threissa fatigat
VIRG. Æn. i. 316:
It would be a noble improvement, or rather a recovery of what we call good-breeding, if nothing were to pass amongst us for agreeable which was the least transgression against that rule of life called decorum, or a regard to decency. This would command the respect of mankind, because it carries in it deference to their good opinion, as humility lodged in a worthy mind is always attended with a certain homage, which no haughty soul, with all the arts
imaginable, will ever be able to purchase. Tully says, virtue and decency are so nearly related, that it is difficult to separate them from each other but in our imagination. As the beauty of the body always accompanies the health of it, so certainly is decency concomitant to virtue. As beauty of body, with an agreeable carriage, pleases the eye, and that pleasure consists in that we observe all the parts with a certain elegance are proportioned to each other; so does decency of behaviour which appears in our lives obtain the approbation of all with whom we converse, from the order, consistency, and moderation of our words and actions. This flows from the reverence we bear towards every good man, and to the world in general; for to be negligent of what any one thinks of you, does not only shew you arrogant but abandoned. In all these considerations we are to distinguish how one virtue differs from another. As it is the part of justice never to do violence, it is of modesty never to commit offence. In this last particular lies the whole force of what is called decency; to this purpose that excellent moralist above mentioned talks of decency; but this quality is more easily comprehended by an ordinary capacity, than expressed with all his eloquence. This decency of behaviour is generally transgressed among all orders of men; nay, the very women, though themselves created it as it were for ornament, are often very much mistaken in this ornamental part of life. It would methinks be a short rule for behaviour, if every young lady in her dress, words, and actions, were only to recommend herself as a sister, daughter, or wife, and make herself the more esteemed in one of those characters. The care of themselves, with regard to the families in which women are born, is the best motive for their being courted to come into the alliance of other. houses. Nothing can promote this end more than a strict preservation of decency. I should be glad if a certain equestrian order of ladies, some of whom one meets in an evening at every outlet of the town, would take this subject into their serious consideration. In order thereunto the following letter may not be wholly unworthy their perusal,
, 'MR. SPECTATOR,
. Going lately to take the air in one of the most beautiful evenings this season has produced ; as I was admiring the serenity of the sky, the lively colours of the fields, and the variety of the landscape every way around me, my eyes were suddenly called off from these inanimate objects by a little party of horsemen I saw passing the road. The greater part of them escaped my particular observation, by reason that my whole attention was fixed on a very fair youth who rode in the midst of them, and seemed to have been dressed by some description in a romance. His features, complexion, and habit had - a remarkable effeminacy, and a certain languishing vanity appeared in his air. His hair, well curled and powdered, hung to a considerable length on his shouiders, and was wantonly tied, as if by the hands of his mistress, in a scarlet ribband, which played like a streamer behind him; he had a coat and waistcoat of blue camlet trimmed and embroidered with silver; a cravat of the finest lace; and wore, in a smart cock, a little beaver hat edged with silver, and made more sprightly by a feather. His horse too, which was a pacer, was adorned after the same 'airy manner, and seemed to share in the vanity of the rider. As I was pitying the luxury of this young person, who appeared to me to have been educated ouly as an object of sight, I perceived on my nearer